Update: Two years ago I wrote this post about Bring Your Own Technology at our local school. I was just informed that the entire school has banned this policy. I doubt my letter was the what caused this change, but I’ll never regret that I sent it to our principal.
I can only imagine the amount of issues personal devices caused at school, mainly because I’m living them out in my home. I’m so glad that they’ve made this decision… it’s hard enough to teach students, let alone police devices. Let’s hear it for normal (awkward) middle school!
Bottom Line – Stand up for what you believe in, write the letter, make the phone call. You may just be planting a seed for the future.
Bring Your Own Technology for Parent Guide
There is a new trend coming to schools in the United States, Bring Your Own Device – BYOD or Bring Your Own Technology – BYOT. Students are allowed to use their own devices in schools to enhance their own instruction. Schools are looking for a way to embrace technology and bring it more readily into the classroom. Many businesses tried to adopt this policy and it failed.
As a parent, educator, and the writer of Busy Kids Happy Mom, I wanted to bring awareness to BYOT or BYOD. While I am not against learning through technology, I am against addictive behaviors, distractions, more time on technology, cutting into learning time, and just the overall cost (device, data plan, insurance). I’m concerned because we are the first generation of educators and parents to invite the outside influence of technology (with no parameters) into our schools.
I’m pretty sure that children today don’t need more technology time. Learning how to use it wisely and learning time management, yes. This is something I’ve been teaching at home. To ask an elementary teacher or several teachers in middle school and high school monitor my child’s technology activity is too much.
This year I received a letter from my child’s math teacher asking about “his” data plan. Needless to say, I made my own line and said “N/A, we do not feel he needs to be bringing a device like this to school.” Then it progressed into teachers wanting to text us assignment updates and then the rumor that schools would be getting wifi access for students (2016 the school has accessible wifi). I felt that I needed to step up and share my thoughts with our principal.
I have below the letter we (my husband and I) sent to our child’s middle school principal. I have changed all of the names and locations. If you would like to share this letter or copy it into an email, please feel free.
I am writing to express my concerns about the new initiative at our Middle School regarding “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)” and WiFi access for students.
At Back To School night, my son’s teachers indicated that personal mobile devices such as iPads, iPhones, etc. will be used in the classroom. It was also stated that this was a new BYOD effort at the middle school. We were asked by one of the teachers about our child’s data plan for mobile devices. I have three main concerns about this and have listed them below. Most parents I have spoken to share these concerns.
1. Excessive Media Time and their effects.
Our children are not in need of more electronic time. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “Today’s children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media.” In addition, “Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.”
2. Socio-economic discrimination.
Not all families will be able to afford devices, or choose not to provide devices for their children. The devices themselves are expensive, as well as the associated data plans. In my family, we are choosing to wait until high school to allow our son to carry his own device. (Recently this changed and we now allow him to take an iTouch to school on Fridays). We feel that it is important for our children to take responsibility of such an expensive device. We are not comfortable sending our child to school with a device that costs hundreds of dollars. Your school policy on electronic devices states that “The school is not responsible for any devices lost or stolen,” but what about when you are asking students to carry expensive devices?
3. Interruption to the school day.
One of the drawbacks to BYOD is the variety of devices that will come to school. This has also been seen in the workplace. Teachers are having to take valuable time away from instruction and have to undergo ongoing professional development to implement this program. The blueprint-12 site (www.k12blueprint.com) stated that “BYOD is uncontrolled and offers less filtered environments, requiring effective classroom management strategies and a greater depth of knowledge and technology.”
Overall, I feel that this new Bring Your Own Device initiative should be reconsidered. As a parent, it is difficult enough to monitor my child’s “media diet” and set up “screen free” zones and times in our home. I also think it is unfair to require students and parents to provide their own devices and data plans. Not all of the schools in our county have adopted this BYOD policy. Please share why you feel this is necessary to have it at our school.
I did receive a response from our principal, he was supportive and understanding; however, I do feel his hands are tied. He has held two parent sessions where he now states that his own children will not be receiving devices until they are in high school.
The Principal also tells all incoming 6th grade parents that devices are not required, regardless of what your children tell you. They have devices in the school, they just don’t have enough devices for every student.
I’m glad we expressed our concerns. We’re willing to share our letter in hopes that it might help put into words some of the worries you may have too.
We didn’t include additional thoughts on privacy (photos in the bathroom), theft, and the many different types of a devices that might come to school (teacher’s nightmare). Thanks to Mr. Busy Kids, we were able to take my lengthy letter and make it more concise!
Since the publication of this post in the Fall of 2014, I have not heard anything positive come from taking devices to school.
Here are some additional problems that have been shared with me:
- Kids are taking them in the bathrooms where they are not monitored. Staying in bathroom stalls to be on their devices.
- Risk of having device lost or stolen.
- Temptation of doing things you’re not supposed to (games, texting, etc)
- Kids taking pictures of their “friends” without consent and posting on social media.
- Bus is free range.
Only positive: Kahoot! is fun to play as a test review.
Please feel free to comment below, this is a kind and caring community. Rude comments will be deleted.